The International Dairy Federation (IDF) reports on its website that a symposium held earlier this year has found that after a decade of research milk-derived fat may offer significant health benefits compared to some common sources of dietary fats.
More than 50 internationally recognized experts in dietary fats and human health reviewed the available scientific evidence relating dairy products and milk fat to cardiovascular disease risk at the symposium called Scientific Update on Dairy Fats and Cardiovascular Disease. The symposium was hosted by the University of Reading in the U.K. and organized by the IDF.
Understanding dairy fats
In a press release on IDF’s site, it says the review authors stressed that the important contributions of dairy products “in meeting human dietary requirements for energy, high quality protein and several key minerals and vitamins are well documented, although the nutritional importance of dairy fats is often less well understood.”
The symposium provided an opportunity to reappraise the impact of dairy foods and milk fat on cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and to place dairy fat into the context of overall human health.
Rethinking dairy fats
The authors also added that “the information presented at this symposium…highlight that despite the contribution of dairy products to the saturated fatty acid composition of the diet, there is no clear evidence that dairy food consumption is consistently associated with a higher risk of CVD. Given the diversity of available dairy foods of widely differing composition and their contribution to nutrient intake within the population, recommendations to reduce dairy food consumption irrespective of the nature of the dairy product should be made with caution.”
For over half a century, the concept of healthy eating has become synonymous with avoiding dietary fat and cholesterol, especially saturated fat.
On a population basis, a diet low in saturated fat remains at the heart of nutritional advice in many countries for lowering plasma cholesterol and reducing CVD risk.
In the case of dairy products, the authors noted, there has been a general perception that a food containing saturated fat is unlikely to be beneficial to health. However, they said, “placing milk fat and dairy products within the context of overall health is a key consideration.”